Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Gardening Tools

 Tools, every gardener needs a tool or two.
What tools are required depends upon the garden and the gardener.
Good tools simplify the work and help ensure it is done properly. When it comes to gardening, the right tool makes the job easier, just try and prune that shrub with your kitchen scissors.
A sharp pair of scissors may work on thin branches but are likely to damage the scissors and possibly make a poor cut in the branch.
On the other hand, pruning shears are used on branches that are up to one-half inch in diameter. If you use your pruning shears on anything larger you will harm the shears and possibly the plant. A poorly pruned branch is a wound waiting to be infected.
Which pruning tool you purchase will depend upon the pruning chores that need to be done. If you do not have trees or shrubs, including roses then you do not have a great need of pruning shears.
Now, most hedges require some level of pruning so purchase a set of hedge shears that are easy to use and strong enough to do the job. There are companies that specialize in making ergonomic hand tools for gardeners.
Some hedge shears have high carbon steel blades, with s curved blades and adjustable tension settings, as well as lightweight aluminum, handles
My hand trowel is one of the most used tools in my small but busy toolkit. Much of my gardening these days is done in containers of one kind or another and the hand trowel is perfect for adding soil and compost to the containers. You can buy long handled versions so that if you do not need to bend down or kneel to garden.
I find the trowel also very useful for digging holes for bulbs, backfilling those holes or adding compost to the garden bed.
Buy good quality tools and buy only what you need; the first step before spending any money is to assess your needs and buy the tools that make the job easier. Good tools are worth the money.
Larger tools, hoes, and rakes, for example, are required for larger gardens and there is a wide variety of bot to choose from, buy the tool that suits you and the job.
I can buy a hand trowel in a dollar store for a buck but the blade bends easily and the tool becomes useless fast. I am not eager to run to the store to buy a new one when I am gardening.
Take care of the tools you do buy, clean them, and keep them dry; they will last a very long time. Take some time and examine the tools you already have before adding  any new ones, 

Friday, April 20, 2018

From My Garden

Today I wrote my last From My Garden column for the Campbellton Tribune. We are moving on the 27th of this month to a new city in the province of Ontario. I will be using this blog to continue my writing and photography.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Vegetable Garden Needs Flowers

A vegetable garden needs flowers, not many, just a few to attract pollinators, add visual appeal, especially if the garden is situated on a front lawn. this iris is one of several in my old Campbellton Community Garden raised bed. I found the bulbs cast aside at the garden three years ago. Planted them in one corner to see what would happen and this picture shows the result.

from: Iris in Raised Bed on Steemit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

New Blog, Gardens, Flowers, Photos

Good day, please visit my new blog at rlewing.
Comments and questions most welcome.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

How to Keep Deer from Destroying Your Garden.

Deer. Oh, deer, you may find them to be cute, reminding you of Bambi but once they have eaten your prize roses your feelings may change.
You may get even more annoyed with these four-legged eating machines when the vegetablegarden you planned all winter long and so passionately prepared turns into a deer buffet. Deer will devour your greens and veggies and many of the ornamentals that we do love so.
What can you do?
Well first remember this, deer are just being deer and foraging for food where they can find it; it is not their fault that you have gone to so much trouble to lay a feast before their eyes.
Also one of the reasons that deer are becoming pests in areas where they were rarely seen is that human, through urban sprawl and other activities are destroying their natural habitat and hey they have to live and eat somewhere.
So how do you deer proof your garden? If you are growing vegetables, the safest way to do so is to build or buy a greenhouse. This will keep the deer out and keep your food safe from their hunger.
A greenhouse will also help keep another unwelcome garden raider away, the rabbit. A greenhouse is more effective than a fence
Now you could put up an electric fence; however, the price of energy is arising and adding to that bill offsets any gain that you may get from growing your own food.
Of course, a small solar panel could be used to fuel the fence. Deer when properly motivated, and food is a great motivator, can leap pretty high. However, for a small garden plot, an electrified fence can be a good alternative to the greenhouse.
Deer cannot sense electricity but will come up close to an object before leaping it so if they receive a shock, they are unlikely to proceed and will turn elsewhere for their meal.
If you want to grow organic vegetables then either a greenhouse or a solar-powered electric fence is your best option for success. There are other alternatives such as repellants and some of these will work but they do need to be applied more than once over the season so if you forget, you may wake up one morning and find the cupboard bare.
There are ornamental plants that are not on the deer’s favourite dining menu and if there is something they like handy, your ornamental garden might be safe.
Humans have destroyed deer habitat and humans have expanded their territory so that deer-human conflicts are all but inevitable. If you live in an area that has a large deer population and are a gardener then you will need to plan for deer control when you plan your garden.

If you build a glass greenhouse your cost will be higher. However, the added advantage to ether greenhouse is that unlike the fence they will extend the garden season both in the spring and the fall and this increases the yield and variety of plants that you can grow.
The choice is yours to make.

Saturday, April 7, 2018


Annuals, the bright, colourful, one season beauties add colour, depth and dimension to any garden. Annuals display their colours for only one season. Yes, some will self-seed, so do a little research, if you do not want them to return next season. However, if you don’t mind surprises then let nature surprise you.
Among my favourite annuals are cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons, violas and pansies.
The driveway of my parental home had snapdragons growing wild along side the house for several seasons. They must have self-sown because my parents did not plant them there. They were part of the backyard border garden, my mother so carefully tended for many years.
Cosmos can add an otherworldly dimension to the back of a garden bed. They also, because the come in a wide variety of colours, make a great annual garden on their own.
Annuals may be placed along the borders of a vegetable garden or interplanted between the vegetable plants. Interplanting is simply mixing up the plant rows. Instead of a complete row of cabbages, which is like setting out a buffet for cabbage moths, for example, plant two cabbages, then marigolds and then two more cabbages and so on.
A knowledge of companion planting is helpful when making annual and vegetable plant choices.  Companion planting is placing two or more plants near each other, the plant choices are based upon the understanding the plants will help each other.
There are many reasons why people love annuals. Some love annuals because they make excellent cut flowers; some because annuals are easy to grow; some love them for their brilliant colours while others just love to create a new garden every spring. 
The reasons do not matter as they are all sound; if you love to garden and enjoy bright vivid colours then annuals will satisfy your needs. I am very fond of annuals and cannot imagine a garden that does not have a few.
Annuals enable the gardener to make basic, simple, and easy but noticeable changes to the garden.
It does not matter how large or small the garden is whether it is a container garden or a large backyard plot. Annuals allow the gardener to adjust the garden’s colour palette all through the growing season.
 Add a few to the herb garden, vegetable patch or along the borders of a perennial bed. Put them in containers on a step, balcony or in a window box. For the most part, annuals are easy to care for and rather inexpensive.
Annuals can be added to the garden at any point through the season. Annuals bloom continuously and produce prolific amounts of seed. This results in the production of many flowers; all making annuals a win-win situation for any gardener.
It may be wise to practice deadheading in order to control the possible spread of these prolific plants. An important point when purchasing annuals or any other plant, be sure to ask the seller if the plant is pesticide free.

So, until next week, happy gardening.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Landscaping Adds Value

Landscaping your front yard can increase your property's value by up to 20 percent.
I divide home buyers/owners into three broad categories. This is simply done in order to help the buyer make appropriate landscaping decisions for their property.
Category one is the flipper. The flipper has no intention of living in the house but is running a business. Curb appeal is what counts here and the installation of a small annual garden, with perhaps a few fragrant perennials; near the front door can do the job. Annuals allow you to pick plant colours that best suit the house.
Category two is the starter home. You are buying your first home and plan to live there until you family gets too big for the house or you simply want to move on up. You can still work with annuals to provide seasonal colour but want to give more thought to perennials and specimen plants. You can think about roses and lilacs, for example.
Category three is the permanent home. You have no plans to move, period. Now you can get serious, annuals, perennials and specimen plants will all play their role and it all depends now on you. Are you a gardener and by that I mean to you enjoy spending time in the garden?
The first question you need to answer before beginning a front yard landscaping project is how long to you plan to live in this home?
Is it a starter home? Are you looking for a quick resale or is there where you and your family will live permanently?
Next how much time do you have to maintain that garden? A poorly designed and cared for yard will not enhance your property and will certainly lose you points on curb appeal.
The answers to these questions can determine your approach.
If you are settling in for the long run then ask yourself this: How do we use the front yard? BBQs and other family and friends get-togethers usually take place out back. The backyard is where the children play.
The front yard is frequently for display. It is the face you show the neighbours and others who drive and walk by.
If you are planning to sell, the front yard is what prospective buyers see first. First impressions are lasting impressions. What the buyers see as they drive up will influence how they view the interior.
Create a good first impression.
Now before you create your landscaping plan you need to decide the following:
How much sun and shade does the yard receive. The answer will determine your plant choices. The right plant, right place philosophy is a good guide to successful landscaping.
How much time to you have for maintenance? Do you enjoy cutting the lawn? If not consider reducing the amount of space that you devote to lawn. Replace grass with a rock garden, shrub or tree.
Do you want to have a different effect each spring and summer? Annuals allow you to change the look each year and provide colour throughout the seasons.
Are you interested in a naturalized look? Then native plants are what you need. What grows where you live? Visit a local nursery and talk with the experts.
Is fragrance an element you wish to include? Many herbs add beauty and fragrance to your garden. A rose bush or two may be just what you need. Buy quality.
How much time do you have to tend to the garden? If your free time is at a premium then low maintenance perennials may be the answer.
Landscaping is an investment and one that can pay sound returns no matter which category you belong in, so take the time and craft a plan that works for you now and in the future.

Podcast Coming soon

I am working on a podcast, working title "We Are Nature Working" I will talk about the many issues facing us from climate catastro...